Maine Coon Breed Summary
Friendly, Intelligent, Independent, Curious, Gentle
This cat’s greatness doesn’t just stop at their size, they’re affectionate without being overly needy, have kept their hunting instincts (purr-fect if you’re in need of a mouser), and are generally sweet-tempered gentle giants that adore the attention of their humans. This cat may sound rather loud when they run, but their quiet, ‘chirping’ meow ensures you that this big kitty is definitely more lamb that lion.
Fun Fact: Cat Clone! In 2004, a Maine Coon named Little Nicky become the first commercially cloned pet animal. His owner, Julie, saved Little Nicky’s tissue in a gene when he passed away, and paid $50,000 to have her cat’s DNA transplanted into an egg cell. A surrogate mother cat carried the embryo and gave birth to a kitten that was similar in personality and appearance to Julie’s cat. It’s the stuff of science furr-ction, right?
|Lifespan||9 – 13 years|
|Height (at the withers)||Males: 25.4cm – 40.6cm, Females: 20.3cm – 35.6cm|
|Weight||Males: 5.9kg – 8.2kg, Females: 3.6kg – 5.4kg|
|Coat||Long, heavy but silky coat|
|Colour||White, black, blue, red, cream, brown, silver, tortoiseshell, blue-cream, golden|
|Eye colour||Copper, green, gold, odd-eyed|
|Common health issues||Hip dysplasia, spinal muscular atrophy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, polycystic kidney disease|
|Other Names||Coon Cat, Maine Cat, Maine Shag, Gentle Giant|
Maine Coons generally have a kitten-like love of play well into adulthood and they enjoy playing fetch and climbing. Males are especially prone to silly behaviour, and while females are more gracious, they’re unlikely to turn down a good game of chase! Both males and females are very smart and like learning tricks or playing with puzzle toys to keep them mentally stimulated.
One of the strangest habits of the Maine Coon is their desire to butt heads! No, we’re not kitten. Although this can be a way to contest for dominance, it’s generally meant affectionately.
As one of the ‘original native cat-breeds’ of the US, the Maine Coon is known for adapting to the freezing winters and wild environment in the state of Maine. The harsh weather, distance from human settlements in Maine and small number of other cats in the area helped these cats stay unmixed for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, little is known about how these cats came to be in the first place.
One theory surrounding the Maine Coon’s origin is that it’s a hybrid, with two main strains to this theory; the first is that a domestic cat cross-bred with a racoon, the second is that a domestic cat cross-bred with a bobcat. The cat/racoon theory is highly improbably, due to the fact that two completely different species cannot breed with each other. So, what about the bobcat theory? Again, this may sound more probable, but as bobcats are a lynx species, they cannot breed with normal cats.
The strongest theory about this breeds’ origin is that they’re descendants of European ship cats. Ship captains would keep cats onboard to help with rodent control, and some captains were so attached to their furry helpers that the cats and their kittens were very well cared for, which helped maintain the cats’ colour strain for generations.
Two hundred years ago, Maine was a popular harbour for ships to anchor and sailors to take a break on land. Many sea-faring families settled in the coastal towns of Maine and brought their much loved felines with them. These cats might have been one of a few long-haired breeds of European cats, such as the long-haired Angora breed. It’s believed that these sailor cats then developed to become the Maine Coon. As the Maine Coon are noted for being great mousers, this gives some weight to the theory!
Another plausible, and perhaps the most accepted tale of the Maine Coon is that of Captain Coons. As the Maine Coon seems to be related to the Norwegian Forest Cat – offspring thought to have descended from the cats brought in ships by Norsemen in the 11th century. With the history of the Maine Coon so full of mystery, it just makes them all the more intriguing!